So is this another blog about how many female divers there are and who makes the best buddies? No. It’s about the Girl Effect which is a powerful idea: by investing in girls in the developing world, we make an effective investment in reducing poverty, creating thriving communities, slowing the spread of AIDS, and protecting the environment. If you haven’t watched the video yet check it out here: http://www.girleffect.org/. Today, more than 600 million girls live in the developing world. One-quarter to one-half of these girls become mothers before age 18; 14 million girls aged 15 to 19 give birth in developing countries each year.
So what has this got to do with diving?? One of the key pressures on coral reefs is population growth. People have lived from the sea for hundreds of years but it’s when population grows rapidly that the increased pressure on the resources becomes a serious problem. For example in Madagascar the rapid growth of coastal populations, whose doubling time is approximately 10-15 years, poses a severe threat to the future sustainability of the country’s extensive coral reefs and other marine habitats, upon which the livelihoods, culture and future economic wellbeing of coastal communities depend.
In Madagascar Blue Ventures has recognised the link between public and environmental health and is directly addressing these challenges through an integrated Population, Health and Environment (PHE) initiative with fishing communities, where a huge unmet demand for sexual and reproductive health services has been identified. By giving girls and women access to these health services they get a choice about how many children they have. In turn this slows the rate of uncontrolled population growth and gives the natural resources time to recover.
It may be controversial but it’s hard to deny that population growth is intimately related to many environmental problems, including the threat to our oceans, that we are faced with. I saw The Girl Effect video and thought it was a simple but powerful message, one that at first might seem very remote from diving but is in fact strongly connected to the future of our oceans.